So, here goes…
It’s time to admit that we mothers quite often say one thing and mean another. We’re so used to putting ourselves last that, when it comes to Mother’s Day, we insist: “All I want is a card.” When what we really mean is: “How lovely it would to be spoiled… If only you would read between the lines and choose me something I really want, something super indulgent that I would never buy for myself…”
So, speaking up for self-effacing mothers everywhere, here’s my unreserved list of box-shaped wishes this Mother’s Day…
1. A big, sumptuous candle.
PS. If in any doubt, anything from John Masters pleeeeease!
PPS. If you tend to be a bit cynical about the ‘true’ meaning of Mother’s Day, I have some good news… It’s not simply a ploy by card retailers to fill the gap between Valentine’s Day and Easter!
Somewhere beneath the cards lies a tradition that goes back centuries. It began with the ancient Greeks (of course) who dedicated an annual spring festival to maternal Goddesses. The Romans followed suit with a spring festival called Hilaria, dedicated to Cybele, a mother goddess. Later, early Christians celebrated a version of Mother’s Day on the fourth Sunday in Lent to honour the Virgin Mary.
In the 1600s Mothering Sunday became an annual celebration with children bringing flowers and gifts to church for their mothers. Servants, apprentices and other employees not living at home were encouraged to visit their mothers. Similar traditions developed around the world.
However, we can thank the Americans for much of today’s current format. Around the turn of the century two pioneering female activists, Julia Ward Howe and Anna Jarvis championed the cause of an official celebration in praise of a Mothers’ Peace Day. In 1914 President Woodrow Wilson declared the second Sunday in May to be Mother’s Day – Anna’s mother had died on May 9th. White flowers had been her favourite and came to symbolise a mother’s love. After World War II American servicemen brought the tradition, and its more commercial aspects, to our shores.
Presently Mother’s Day is celebrated in 46 countries from Italy to Azerbaijan, with the day falling on a variety of dates with different traditions according to culture. In Azerbaijan, for example, Mother’s Day falls on March 8th and coincides with International Women’s day when gifts are given to all women. In Thailand, Mother’s Day falls on August 12th – the birthday of their beloved Queen.
Ancient or manufactured, it appears we’re all of one mind – Mother’s Day matters as we get to express feelings which often go unsaid, writing words in a card and choosing a special gift for the woman who has done more for us than anyone in the world.
This year, I hope you make her heart soar.